When Releasing Body Shame Feels Like Letting Go of a Bad Relationship

crouchingcat

Crouching Cat. Photo by Kelsey Finkle.

Sometimes when I feel so disgusted with my body, I am reminded of what it’s like to be in a bad relationship. The kind where you walk on eggshells around each other and forget anything else can possibly exist. It’s the one you just can’t bear to part with because you are afraid. Self-loathing becomes your security blanket, where it’s all you know. It’s your default because it feels safe. Who knows what terrors could happen should you dare to toss the blanket aside and find a new one.

Just like walking away from a bad relationship, turning off the self hatred switch is easier said than done. It will be hard as fuck, will make you scared shitless, totally vulnerable, and naked to the world. At the same time, it is something you never regret and it is one of the best things you will ever do for yourself.

Consider the way you talk to yourself. Be completely honest – what are the kinds of things you say to or about yourself? It is not uncommon for most men and women to verbally self-abuse. Imagine if you started speaking this way to the people in your life. They wouldn’t tolerate it for one second.

We default to negative self-talk because somewhere along the way we learned it is bombastic or pompous to think we are attractive. We learned we are not entitled to have an honest, clear view on ourselves. We have to first go through a filter, after which point it is then appropriate to determine our worth. And even then, we still suck. We are conditioned to act this way because we have gone through years of training and so this paradigm is far easier to exist in than changing our ways.

In the exact same way, it becomes easy to fester in an unhealthy relationship. We get accustomed to the silence that speaks volumes. It is seemingly effortless to tweak who we are for the sake of pleasing someone else, while we know damn well this person is not serving us.

The negative self-talk does not serve us either. Who told you to determine your self worth based on whether or not you have a thigh gap? Or that stilettos are objectively sexier than birkenstocks? It’s time to erase their message from your mind, permanently. The way you would erase a voicemail from an ex-lover on an old answering machine, and then throw away the tape for good measure.

How do we begin to redefine beauty? How do we release old beliefs of what our body should look like? How do we make up our own body beautiful rules?

One thing we can do is choose an empowering modality, such as a postural practice like Bowspring, to connect with the body. Move in a nourishing manner. Whether you select yoga, zumba, running, or hiking, the movement is not for the sake of weight loss and changing who you are but instead to wake up to who you already are. We want to wake up the little light deep inside.

Find a modality to wake up and be present within the body you are given. When you move, embrace the shapes you create. The shapes are beautiful not because anybody else says so, but because you believe so.

If we always try to comply with certain rules and regulations about what we should look like, or a certain way we should behave, we will live in the drone of an unhappy relationship. Only this time the relationship is with ourselves. Changing habits and patterns is hard work, but much like walking away from that stifling relationship, it is worth the pain and the effort.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

BodyLoveCT video with lululemon athletica

Please join me for this very special event.

With Love,

Maggie

Slide1

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

From foundation, finding freedom in the body

How is it that we can be so cruel to ourselves that we wish we could chop off a handful of body fat?

I shot a short video this week for my upcoming workshops on body image. Lee, the videographer, had it all organized and planned out, she told me exactly what I needed to do. It couldn’t have gone smoother in that regard.

She prompted me to write down the good and the bad about my body. Both of which caused a different kind of dis-ease: I felt deeply saddened to see how easily I could conjure what I dislike and on the other hand slightly embarrassed or pompous for what I did like. Am I being bombastic by saying I’m damn sexy?FullSizeRender

Lee suggested we do a shot with me just in yoga pants and a bra. Sure thing! I’m comfortable practicing this way, so why not?

Before we shot I changed into a “better bra” – it made no difference but as I was pulling the black bra over my shoulders I realized I was doing this in an attempt to look slimmer. Oh my god. I stopped myself. I realized it made no difference which bra I chose or how I looked – what mattered was this internal dialog. This manipulation of my mind that I could care SO MUCH about which bra I wore for the shoot. Which bra would be more flattering to my tummy? Which bra would dig in the least on my back? This was what I was really looking for.

Now there were practical purposes: I wanted a black bra since the shoot was black & white and I thought that would read clearer on camera.

As I stood against the blank wall, holding my #BodyLove sign, belly exposed, Lee with camera in hand – I felt terribly uncomfortable. Lee asked me to smile. I thought “from where?” I felt like a lump standing in front of the camera. I felt like a TOTAL JOKE. I didn’t have this body image shit down at all!

But this is the reality of our relationships with our bodies: we are always going to have those moments, days even, where we can be really down on ourselves.

The last thing Lee had me do was a very brief yoga practice to get some movement shots. As I angled into side chair I could feel the little side rolls where my tummy and back meet. These rolls have been a sore spot for me. As a child I would look at myself in the mirror, tilt sideways and see how much fat I could gather in one hand. I wished I could cut it all off.

This time though, instead of hatred for the rolls, I had nothing but love and support.

It’s difficult to describe but this part of my body that I have tried for so long to make disappear is now one of my most favorite things about me. My perspective has completely shifted so that when in a side bend I feel the rolls building one on top of the other and like a solid foundation beneath a house, they hold my heart up. From foundation I find freedom.

When I stepped into my yoga practice during the shoot, I reconnected with my body. It felt like “Phew, OK, this is me. I am home.” I disconnected from the self-loathing thoughts and was able to transport myself to reveling in the shapes my body created. These shapes are unique to my body and mine alone.

The contrast is remarkable: between the judgement over the image I see in the mirror and that of feeling love for my body radiating from the inside out. It is such a full feeling that even the nastiest thought about my body can’t ever compete. A learning moment came from this video shoot which was to reinforce how powerful a yoga practice can be for appreciation and acceptance of our bodies.

When approached with an open mind and an open heart, the practice connects you with your body. This connection is pure and free from criticism, judgment, or hate. This connection is about love.

A deep thank you to Lee Tripler for her time and talent on the video shoot.
If you are local please check out my events page for information on the lululemon launch class & party (July 17) and a workshop at Catch a Healthy Habit (July 30).
#SummerofBodyLove

Tagged , , , , ,

It’s Safe to Feel What You Feel

2442995055_97a02d8124_z It was my second class this week at the eating disorder treatment center.

There was already a palpable tension as I walked in, like the feeling of seeing a someone hold a knife over someone’s chest the moment before a major surgery…you just don’t know what might happen.

A soft sobbing shape quietly whimpered.  Women filtered in to do yoga with heads hung low. The crook in their torsos and abdomens hinted at a deep dark secret concealed below the layers of uncomfortable skin and shame.

Arranging the women so everyone had their space, pillows, blocks, etc., I placed a kind hand on the shoulder of the crying woman. A gesture to ask “are you alright?”, and let her know “you’re going to be okay”.

As I settled in to teach, I had an urge to spill my guts to these these women.

Read the full piece on Elephant Journal by clicking here.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Forgive and Let Live

“Forgiveness clears out the old weeds and lets the sunlight in.”
– from friend and soul teacher, Josh Kane

My friend was sharing with me about his recent reconnection with an ex-girlfriend, or in his words a “past love.” I prefer his term past love as it holds more reverence and respect.

His experience was such that he felt a genuine joy from talking to this woman who I am sure at one point or another hurt him in some way. But he expressed that because of his ability to forgive her, he was finally able to derive joy and learning from the simple experience of reconnecting and hearing that she was on a much better path. He felt happy not only for his past love, but also for himself.

There was no filter, no ulterior motive, no agenda. What existed in its most pure and powerful form was forgiveness.

It got me thinking about my own experience with past loves. About how I can’t reach out with an open heart until all has been forgiven. And it’s not that I feel compelled to remain best buds with my exes (believe me, I have tried and failed), but should the occasion occur where we are prompted to engage in casual conversation, or perhaps call upon one another for a family tragedy, it’s nice to know you can interact with integrity and respect. No agenda. No ulterior motives.

I want you to think about how it feels to hold a grudge. Come on – we’ve all been there, I know you’ve done it. I have! When we hold a grudge, when we hold onto the way someone hurt us, when we hold onto the OLD STORY, we perpetuate and live in the old patterns and habits. Even if we have found a new partner, new friends, or a new career. When we hold a grudge we are doing ourselves the greatest disservice: we are depleting our own energy (and time!) by festering on what might have been instead of relishing in what is.

How can we appreciate the person, the love, the compassion that is presented right in front of us when we are stuck churning over past pain?

I don’t want to discount experiencing feelings to their fullest. In fact, I realize the necessity to feel our full spectrum of feelings in order to be able to forgive. When we suffocate the hurt and pretend we are hunky dory, that’s when forgiveness can seem to be eons away. We build ourselves the proverbial “wall.”

Every forgiveness will not lead to a restored friendship or even an amicable relationship between past loves. Sometimes all it means is that you forgive someone in your heart and let live. You let them live their life and you go on living yours.

The big difference however is that when you live your life you no longer carry the old story, the resentment, the anger, or perhaps even the fear that a wrong-doing will happen to you again.

You are OK with the fact, with the plain and simple truth, that it’s highly probable someone in your life will hurt you again. And again, and again, and again.

Forgiveness benefits the other person, absolutely. But when we forgive we are actually giving ourselves a beautiful gift. We are giving ourselves permission to proceed forward. It is not that we forget those who have crossed our paths, loved us and hurt us – no, they stay with us like a dear old shoe. But we can move forward with grace, so that we can approach that person with respect and truth. And so that we can treat ourselves with utmost respect and truth.

It is in this way that when we enter into new relationships and friendships we recognize what our values are. So that we can surround ourselves with the best possible people.

For some reason I keep thinking back to a particular past love. Let’s call him Tyler.

Tyler and I had what you would call a whirlwind romance. We fell in love hard and quickly. The relationship lasted about two years and seemed to crumble just as fast as it was built. Of course in retrospect, I see that it was built on very dissimilar values and a lack of truthful communication.

In the end there was so much hurt. This was the first time I really felt that sensation of my heart being ripped out of my chest. Torn into shreds. And then stomped on by angry elephants.

Tyler and I reconnected about a year after our break up and of course we hurt each other again. Or really, I hurt him. Why? Because I had never forgiven him. What followed was a slew of who could hurt the other person more, with him finally coming out “on top” with a mean email to beat all mean emails in life. An email that made me feel like a worthless piece of shit. The communication stopped there. Right in its tracks. I realized that responding to him in a similar manner would do me no good. Would only perpetuate the hurt. But then what? What was next?

It has taken me nearly three years to realize that what is next is the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness that can happen even though Tyler is no longer in my life. We no longer communicate in any form or function. We haven’t in three years.

I will sometimes sit at my computer, compelled to write him an email letting him know “I forgive you.” But I realize that’s not what is important. I am not looking for a response. I am not looking for an explanation. I am looking for a sense of relief, of letting go of the hurt that has rested and made a home in my heart.

As the hurt is let go and as I continue my process of forgiving Tyler, I start to open new opportunities, new doors for love in so many different ways. I also realize how I can start to forgive in other relationships and friendships. I notice the price we pay when we hold onto our hurt.

If it happens to be a past love – or present – allow yourself to feel the hurt. To get angry. Maybe even write it all down – as if you would present this in a letter to that person. But find your way to release it and to enter the process of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is power. Forgiveness is freedom. Forgiveness is a gesture of absolute love.

It is the magic potion that clears out the weeds and lets the sun shine in.

Check out Josh Kane and incredible yoga teacher Jennifer Buckman at Pop Up Yoga CT this summer – Yoga + Live Music = LOVE! 

Tagged , , , ,

That’s their shit. Why you can’t please everybody.

IMG_7725I pay a lot of attention (ok probably way too much attention) to the unsubscribes from my email list. And I noticed that yesterday, someone marked my most recent email as “abuse.” My immediate reaction was a combination of expletives, anger, and a lot of complaining and attempting to explain why this had happened. (What had I done? I asked myself.)

This theme of pleasing everyone has come up a lot for me recently. Both for myself and for others very close to me.

I lived for a long time as a people pleaser. You could say I still do to a certain degree, but I am learning to let it go. Growing up and into my twenties I was constantly yearning to please my family, friends, colleagues, people I barely knew. God forbid I ever say something someone did not agree with.

When in the midst of trying to please everybody, or trying to control the outcome it now occurs to me … STOP, Just Stop. Because in no alternate universe do I please everybody, do I control the outcome, do I never offend.

I have always HATED the notion that a given situation might possibly be slightly uncomfortable, or extremely uncomfortable. (That there is MY own shit – and I’m working on being comfortable with discomfort, that this is normal, this is life!)

But then I remember: I am not a mind-reader. And you aren’t either.

And then I remember: there is absolutely no way I can please everyone. I probably can’t even please most of them.

I was at dinner with some friends and a hypothetical and potentially very uncomfortable situation came up. We were playing it out – how the situation might unfold and I chimed in “if they are disrespectful or unkind to you, that’s their shit.”

And oh how I needed to take my own advice!

It occurred to me it’s often as simple as that. If we go as far as we can for someone, through being open and honest and available, and yet there is still a lack of kindness and respect, then what it boils down to is: that’s their shit.

And guess what? It is highly likely that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, no amount of arguing or defending your case that will change that.

What’s funny is that I am writing this to primarily remind myself that …

I am not a mindreader.

I cannot please everyone.

If someone has a problem with me then most likely, that’s their shit.

But I would bet money that many of you reading this are in great need of that reminder as well. When do you find yourself bending over backward to gain acceptance? To please? To attempt controlling the outcome?

Maybe the next time you find yourself in that situation can you simply … let it go. And remember, You Are Not A Mindreader. You Cannot Please Everyone. Sometimes … That’s their shit.

Tagged , , ,

Webinar Series: Release Body Shame

I’m excited to announce a brand new webinar series I am launching this summer – beginning June 16!

Release Body Shame

Experience freedom from the entrapment of body shame.

Why Release Body Shame? And, what is it anyway?
I spent the bulk of my early twenties battling an eating disorder. It was primarily through yoga and a mindfulness practice that I was able to heal myself. My journey continues to this day as I work toward releasing my own body shame (buried deep within my own trenches) through developing a more rich practice that supports me as I get older.

Release Body Shame will be an experience that allows you to begin the self-inquiry pertaining to your own relationship with your body. We will open the conversation about body image as it pertains to our culture and ourselves as human beings.

Throughout the webinar series we will work with the 5 A’s: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing – to better understand how we can change the story that we tell ourselves and how we can begin to better release the shame we hold onto about our bodies.

Click here to learn more and sign up today! XO

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Give yourself a break

My 2nd video blog – it’s up!

And I have a confession: I’m watching The Bachelorette tonight. There, I said it! And I’m letting myself off the hook for this one. No guilt. I’m focusing on the ‘wants,’ not the ‘shoulds.’

What are you going to give yourself a break for? How can you let yourself off the hook? Give yourself permission?

Write it in the comments: what are you letting yourself off the hook for tonight or today?

Because honey you rock.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Take Care

It’s been a weird, migraine-limbo day. I woke up with that “oh crap I’m getting a migraine” feeling … which wasn’t quite enough to completely dismantle me but WAS enough to have to miss my beloved Bowspring class and although I treated my migraine “naturally” I still felt all screwed up and out of control.

I so wanted my day to go as planned, to follow every step, every appointment I had on my calendar.

I managed to make it to a lululemon goal-setting afternoon but even so felt like I just wasn’t fully there because I had this fog of migraine that so palpably was separating me from the rest of the world.

I could feel it in my interactions with everyone I came across today.

When I came home from goal-setting I was more relieved than ever to slip into my most comfortable of clothes, curl up on the couch, and doze off to the continuation of my Parenthood binge. I felt comforted, sweet, and held.

I let go of needing to control the outcome of my day and held onto “take care of yourself Maggie.” Because sometimes that’s all we can do.

The obligations and need for control get in the way and I’m working, slowly learning, that when my body is giving me clear messages I need to listen. Not only that, I need to honor them.

Not surprisingly, I am starting to feel better as I crawl out of migraine-limbo. I’m so happy to see the sunshine and my newly blossomed orchid sitting so content on the window sill. I am happy that tonight I get to spend time with my guy and that tomorrow is a new day.

So, please go and take care of yourself darling. Lord knows you deserve it.

Tagged , , , ,

Triggers: Our Bodies Speak Volumes

Chin up! Photo credit: Ellie Tonev

Chin up! Photo credit: Ellie Tonev

When I hear the word triggers I automatically think of my migraine triggers: stress, the weather, excessive heat, excessive cold, tomatoes, eggs, pork, nitrates, msg, to name a few.

But I never truly considered triggers in that the way in which I hold my body has profound affects on my emotional and psychological health. That when I spend my day with my chin down, shoulders slumped – let’s call it the “I GIVE UP” posture – well, I feel like fucking giving up.

I never considered these triggers until my teacher Tracy really took us down that path Saturday afternoon in Bowspring class. When we meditated on our triggers.

Bowspring (for me at least) is all about holding a steady posture where you feel both solid and light, sturdy and at ease, confident and at home in your own body. We hold the Bowspring posture during a class so that we can find it with greater ease during life.

The triggers we notice are things such as:

  • Do I drop my chin and always look to the ground?
  • Do my shoulders curl forward?
  • Do I draw in my belly so as to feel smaller?

For most of my life, my answer to pretty much all of the above has been a resounding YES. Yoga and especially Bowspring Practice though have slowly helped me find my way out of these patterns and triggers. This path out has not only helped me feel stronger and eliminate pain, but also has given me a newfound sense of confidence – where I feel more at home in my body.

Growing up I was taller than a lot of the kids in school. I would wish every night to wake up skinnier and shorter. My tallness and gargantuan feet were a travesty at the time. While classmates were still shopping at Gap Kids, my mom started bringing me to Eddie Bauer and The Limited.

To say that I did not embrace my tallness and size would be an understatement. All I wanted was to feel small. I was desperate to fix:

  • my tummy so that it would quit sticking out (before I learned about the birds & the bees there was a period where I questioned “am I pregnant?”)
  • my feet to stop growing already (I’ve been a size 10 since about 5th grade – there, it’s out there, I have big feet!)
  • my thighs to not rub together when I wore dresses or shorts (they still rub together somewhat and when I run long distances, they chafe, ah well!)
  • my boobs to disappear (I wore baggy tops to conceal them until some of the other girls caught up)
  • and somehow I thought if I slouched enough, I would be shorter like the cute short girls.

I notice that even now, as I make my way into my early 30s, I still hold onto some of these beliefs that have manifested as triggers in my body.

Like the tummy trigger – oh the amount of time I have spent trying to suck that darn thing in! I spent years in high school and college perfecting a posture that would make my tummy appear concave or hollow. And I wonder why my back started spasming…

At the time the only part of my body I probably loved were my shoulders because there I noticed – bony protrusions! Ah-ha!

I’m not going to say that I have fully addressed all of my triggers. I’m not sure I ever will. But I notice them, oh do I ever notice them.

For instance when I was running the other day, I spotted my reflection in a window and immediately said to myself “EW, GROSS!” I said it out loud, right there on Knight Street. Why? Because I noticed my belly was sticking out.

So what did I do? I first tried with all my might to suck my belly in to make it go away. As I did this I started feeling totally uncomfortable in my body, realized “there’s a trigger for ya!”, and decided fuck it, who cares, I’m going to let my belly be free. Breathing feels better that way anyway and – cool fact – I have also noticed that when I let my belly be free and stop trying to suck it in when running, it is MUCH easier to lean into the run and to keep a faster, steady pace.

The greatest gift is that when I pay attention to my triggers, I feel a greater sense of “I’m at home” in my own body rather than wanting to fix or escape it. I give myself permission to be exactly as I am and to honor the very shape of me.

I encourage you to notice how you are sitting, standing, walking right now. How are you HOLDING your own body? Do you feel empowered in your own body or do you feel diminished and small? Perhaps simply try this cue: keep your chin up. And just see what happens when you make that your mantra throughout one day.

With Love,

Maggie

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 161 other followers